Omnivore Capital, an early-stage fund with the focus on India’s agricultural technology space, has made its debut deal by investing an undisclosed amount in the country’s first private sector weather forecasting company Skyline Met Solutions Pvt Ltd (Skymet) and picking up 33 per cent stake. Godrej Agrovet, the Godrej Group’s agribusiness arm, is an anchor investor in Omnivore Capital.
Omnivore, which had launched a Rs 250 crore fund last year, is also expected to make a first close at around Rs 60 crore by September end, said Mark Kahn, Venture Partner at Omnivore. The funds will be mostly raised from domestic sources. According to Kahn, increasing interest in the Indian agriculture space and potentially high returns offered by early-stage investments are attracting investors to the fund.
"Skymet has a differentiated intellectual property, a great team and a substantial focus on a sub-sector that can make a major difference to the agricultural space," said Kahn about the investment.
Based in Noida, Skymet provides weather forecasting solutions to agriculture, energy, media and logistics sectors. With a team of meteorologists and computer scientists on board, Skymet is working to increase the accuracy, granularity and range of weather forecasts in India. According to its website, Skymet’s clients include Gazprom, Thomson Reuters, Bayer, BASF, CESC, NDPL, PTC India, Times Now and Hindustan Times, among others.
The funding from Omnivore will be used by Skymet to invest in R&D, sales force expansion and consumer applications. According to Jatin Singh, founder and CEO of Skymet, the value of weather data has increased dramatically in the past decade and Indian companies have started to understand how critical accurate forecasts are for their weather-dependent businesses.
“Improved meteorology is critical for the future of Indian farming. Given our dependency on the monsoon and the growing impact of climate change, the ability to accurately forecast weather conditions can substantially increase agricultural productivity and profitability. Globally, weather forecasting is a rapidly growing, billion-dollar industry. Skymet is well-positioned to transform Indian meteorology and create value across different sectors of the economy,” said Kahn, who will also join the company board.
Omnivore is also planning to make two more investments during this financial year. “Our proprietary deal pipeline is strong and we currently have multiple agtech start-ups under due diligence,” said Jinesh Shah, Partner at Omnivore.
While the broader food and agriculture space has attracted interest from private equity investors across the spectrum, agricultural technology remains a relatively niche space. Omnivore is looking to invest into subsectors like plant science, animal science, aquaculture, sustainable inputs, agriculture services, farm equipment, water management, farmer finance.
Omnivore invests anywhere between Rs 2 crore and Rs 10 crore in the first round of funding, with investments up to Rs 20-Rs 25 crore throughout the rounds.